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What Are the Causes of High Liver Levels?

Last Updated: Sep 02, 2010 | By Rhonda Merritt
A simple blood test can determine high liver levels. Photo Credit lab chair image by Alan Shearer from <a href=''></a>

High liver levels, or elevated liver enzymes, indicate damage or inflammation to liver cells, says The most common liver enzymes are alanine transaminase, or ALT, and aspartate transaminase, or AST. These enzymes, the most reliable markers of liver injury, are leaked into the bloodstream when liver cells are injured and measured with a blood test. In most cases, high levels are temporary and mild. There are several conditions and diseases that can cause high liver levels, from viruses to medications.

Wilson's Disease

Celiac Disease

The journal "Hepatology" states that celiac disease is a common chronic immune-mediated disorder of the small intestine, caused by dietary intake of gluten in wheat, barley and rye. Several liver disorders have been described in association with celiac disease. The most common---and often the only---laboratory test indicator of liver injury in celiac disease patients is mild

to moderate elevated levels of AST and/or ALT. This elevation is less than five times the upper limit of normal. Increase in ALT is more common than AST.


A 2008 study published in the "British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" found that muscular exercise can cause high pathological liver function tests in healthy men. The enzymes AST and ALT were significantly increased for at least seven days after intensive weightlifting; other liver functions called LD, CKL and myoglobin also showed highly elevated levels. Physical exercise can result in elevated liver enzymes, especially AST, due to muscle breakdown and injury.

Medications and Supplements

The American Academy of Family Physicians lists common agents such as medications, herbal supplements and vitamins that can cause liver enzyme elevations. Medications include acetaminophen, statins, Glyburide, Heparin, Labetelol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Vitamins and supplements include ephedra, kava, senna, shark cartilage and vitamin A.

Other Causes

Other possible causes of high liver function levels include alcohol abuse, cirrhosis, mononucleosis, hyperthyroidism, obesity, gallbladder inflammation, heart attack, pancreatitis and muscular dystrophy.

Category: Forex

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